NurOwn stem cell technology
NurOwn stem cell technology Israel news photo: TAU

Drs. Alexander Birbrair and Akiva Mintz M.D., Ph.D., of Wake Forest Baptist, were part of a team of scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center who have taken the first steps to create neural-like stem cells from muscle tissue found in animals. 

Details of the work were published in two complementary studies released in the September online issues of the journals Stem Cell Research and Experimental Cell Research.

Part of the report reads:

“Skeletal muscle tissue, which makes up 50 percent of the body, is easily accessible and biopsies of muscle are relatively harmless to the donor, so we think it may be an alternative source of neural-like cells that potentially could be used to treat brain or spinal cord injury, neurodegenerative disorders, brain tumors and other diseases, although more studies are needed.”

Prior to this, in February 2011, the Wake Forest Baptist team was able to isolate neural precursor cells derived from skeletal muscle of adult transgenic mice.

In the current research, the team “isolated neural precursor cells from in vitro adult skeletal muscle of various species including non-human primates and aging mice,” displaying that these cells not only survived in the brain, but at the same time migrated to the area of the brain where neural stem cells come from.

Another issue the researchers uncovered was whether such neural-like cells could possibly form tumors, a characteristic of many types of stem cells.

Dr. Mintz’s co-authors are Dr. Alexander Birbrair ("first author of thes works"), Dr. Osvaldo Delbono (leading author of study), Tan Zhang, Ph.D., Zhong-Min Wang, M.S., Maria Laura Messi, M.S., and Grigori N. Enikolopov, Ph.D., of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

The studies were sponsored by a PUSH grant from the Wake Forest Baptist Comprehensive Cancer Center to Drs. Akiva Mintz and his colleagues.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)